Post Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s political ecosystem is unraveling and may see a paradigm shift.

JJs demise also brings the curtain down on an entire political era in Tamil Nadu, the state she ruled firmly. Jayalalithaa perfected an idiom of governance .

Populism and caprice were the hallmarks of her rule.

Amma canteens, Amma water, Amma pharmacies were started to fuel a cult of personality that had few parallels anywhere in India –

As her own stature and clout grew, that of others in the party – not to speak of the party itself as an institution – shrunk in proportion. That is why her death places a big question mark over the long-term survival of her party

In the Dravidian-centric politics of the state, Jayalalithaa, supreme leader of the AIADMK, was one pole around which power revolved, the other being the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of her arch-rival, M. Karunanidhi. In a twist of fate, the DMK patriarch, now 92, is also ailing. But unlike the AIADMK, there is in place a succession plan of sorts whose strength, paradoxically, lies in the the fact that it is essentially dynastic.

Jayalalitha has consciously concentrated all powers in her hands and consistently emaciated her second line by forcing them to be in a perpetual state of obligation to her. The period in which Panneer Selvam was CM was pathetic without any decision taken. Jaya also used collective leadership formula in her absence to consciously keep the second line cut to size.

So it is not difficult to imagine the chaos that would be created. The second line would find it difficult to sustain power. The party does not have any charismatic leader to keep it intact.

If the AIADMK gradually weakens, it is tempting to speculate over what might take its place.DMK patriarch Karunanidhi is 93 and the party is plagued by sibling rivalry – his son M K Stalin, successor to the throne, and his elder brother MK Alagiri are engaged in turf wars. The Congress, which was uprooted by the Dravidian parties half a century ago, does not have a strong state leader or cadre leaving the field open for the BJP.

The DMK will almost certainly go into the next elections under M.K. Stalin’s leadership and would hope to profit over the long haul from the death of their most formidable political opponent. But this may also be the moment for the smaller parties – the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the MDMK of Vaiko, the Dalit parties – to try and expand their influence. Vijaykant’s DMDK will also fancy its chances, as will the Congress and BJP, especially the latter

It’s barely six months since the AIADMK came to power the May 2016 Assembly elections. AIADMK won 134 seats, DMK won 89, and nine other seats went to two other parties. Before the elections, the mood within the AIADMK was tense, Jayalalithaa was not in the best of her health and it was the first election after the historic floods of 2015. How the middle classes, shocked by those rains, would vote was an unknown. The DMK-Congress vote split helped and AIADMK wrapped it up but it was close till it finished.

For victories like these, it’s the Jayalalithaa magic that worked. Not Sasikala, not the party tag either.

For the BJP, Jayalalithaa’s passing is their best chance yet in Tamil Nadu where they’ve had no luck so far.

As of now, Panneerselvam’s regime will need a great deal of support from the Centre to function smoothly in the state in terms of policy and logistical assistance, including financial resources. It will also need a friendly supportive role from the governor. A friendly Centre is always beneficial for a state, more so when the state is in some rough weather (of whatever kind). Sources said that the Modi government at the Centre will play a constructive and supportive role with the Tamil Nadu government and won’t do anything that could be seen as disruptive. It would like to be seen as a trustworthy and reliable partner. It won’t risk doing anything that could help in strengthening the DMK.

There is a feeling that the AIADMK-DMK-centric politics in Tamil Nadu will soon undergo a metamorphosis.

With Jayalalitha no longer around and the aging DMK chief M Karunanidhi unwell, the politics and personalities in the state will be reflective of a new order.

For the time being, In the absence of Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK is expected to back the saffron party’s candidate with no pre-conditions, and that would be much to the BJP’s delight.

As of now, the BJP stands to benefit the most from her unexpected departure. The party, sources said, has short and long-term strategies to grab the political space created as a result of Amma’s death. The next assembly election is in 2021 and hence the DMK can but only wait for another four years.

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